Working, painting, and dying leather


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I keep reading where people want to take pre-dyed leather and redye it. PLEASE UNDERSTAND THIS: Unless the piece is vegetable tanned and has not had and type of finish applied to it, you will not be able to get any type of dye to stick to it (unless something brand new has hit the market). You might think you got a good dye until everything you are wearing gets dye on it.

This is the reason that this costume is difficult. You can spray dye leather (which is like painting it), you can paint leather, but you cannot redye finished leather. You may be able to strip veg tanned leather, but the chemicals are very dangerous and it is not worth getting sick over.

Leather is expensive. I'm just trying to help you.
Wookie you have a very good point. Almost all the leather I am working with is unfinsihed so far and undyed. I have one that was pre dyed and it may not work out for what I plan. that is why I am goign to test on a small scrap of it before I dye it. if the dye does not take then not point in continueing and I will just pick up unfinished and do it right. when I say unfinsihed as in this leather is bught with the intent to be dyed and used in that fashion. That means it is natural in its color and has no glosses or finsihes to it.
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Dyeing leather/sealing leather

I think I have found the color dyes/measurements for the skirt. After 14 tests, not bad. The only problem now is to get it to look like the MOM skirt squares. It is definately not dunked.In my test to try dunking the squares the end result comes out where there isn't an even coat of purple on the edges, that is why I definately think it's not dunked into the dye. I think that it is either dobbed front and back and a tad on the sides, but it looks very even in some places, so I am tending to think it may be airbrushed. I will list my formulas after I think I have found the correct colors for most of the different "shades" of purple for all the types of strapping. Be prepared to buy lots of solvent. MOM pics seem to make me think there is some type of chalky weathering, or letting it set out in the sun. I am not there yet, just want to get the first layer of dye application figured out. The skirts in some studio shots are definately different than the MOM shots. You can tell by the lace color. The back side of the leather skirt is definately dyed/airbrushed shades different. The laces are more prominent looking in the back than in the front due to the coloring. Anyone with any other imput, please join in :D I did seem to find a google search that helped a little on the process of dyeing. Still researching...
Also, when dyeing leather (i use tandy dyes-same as fiebings) If you want to save money, use denatured alcohol instead of their solvent. It will save you some cash methinks.
When airbrushing leather, make sure that you do so in a very well ventilated area away from ANY ignition source.
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Thanks wook, we airbrush dyed my skirt, and glued most of my holster together, wow, dyeing makes me feel like I am some kinda weird chemist, making all these concoctions. :D I wore one of those masks, but still feel light headed a bit and look purple handed!
Apparently, you don't need that much dye for the skirt, you just need TONs and TONS of solvent. Since I found the color, I realized that everything depends on the type of hide, as to how the colors will come out. My one oz. lace came out darker on my test pieces. So, after all the skirt squares were done/airbrushed, the dye mix for the lace got gobs more solvent, then I dunked it in.
Apparently, if you dunk leather squares the color is different than when you airbrush it. So, make sure you test test test! :D So after you make your skirt squares save all your scrap leather for test dyeing.
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Thanks for all the info Zam I Am.... :D :D

I figured pretty much the same with the dyes/solvent... just a little dye and lots of thinning it out. Can you tell us which colors you used that we need to buy.... black and..... ?

*Starts putting more money in a piggy bank* Gads... this calls for a trip to Florida!!! :D :D *Hey, it works for me!* Seriously, a good friend of mine, who is big time into costuming, is also an artist with the airbrushing supplies and experience that I don't have to do this!

I do find it interesting that they used at least two different costumes... Guess if I mess up, I'll just say it wasn't based on the MOM costume! ;)
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So far, I haven't used black at all. I would use a small bottle of red, blue, purple, dark brown for the holster (you can always lighten it up). I am unsure, but for the football greeb, I haven't been able to get that color, I think they used pink and red. I have to do more testing. Remember it all depends what type of leather you use. I used tandy hides that were light in color. If a hide is dark already, you may have to fix your ratios. I used the airbrush with the dye, not paint. Mixing dye is totally different from mixing paint. You don't use white or black to darken or lighten like you think. You use solvent to lighten, and double dip to darken.

So far, this is what I have. I used all tandy dyes.
Skirt: 1 1/4 teasp Red, 3/4 teasp Purp, 20 tblsp solvent
Skirt Lace: Same as skirt
Holster: medium brown (I added a little red and royal blue, but it's definately more brown.)I can't understand that lighter "chalky" look to the holster I don't know how they got that weathered "chalky, cragly" look either on the rest of it either. My guess is that they took left over paint from the cumberbun or vest and did a quick once over the edges of the holster with an airbrush in turn, you see a purple effect on the very edges. The crags are prolly due to the leather itself?
Football greeb straps: ? (Pink red?)
Leg greeb strap: ? I got it once, but for some reason haven't been able to replicate the color even tho I wrote everything down.
Arm mouse, bottle greeb: ? I am going to just use skirt color.
Vest lace: testing still., may just use skirt color.
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Hmmm..... :/

I would've guessed purple, red, blue and just a touch of black... Well... that'll be SM's problem, not mine! *LOL!* Yeah.. right! ;)

After all this, think I might have to go into ranching or something, raise some cows so I can be sure to have enough hides for this project! ;)
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For sealing the leather,
I checked out this thread about atom wax, it might help.
I just did a test rubbed in atom wax on a piece of skirt square, and it didn't change the color! Yeh! then I dropped some water on it but :( and the color did change. So, this atom wax only slightly seals it. I think you still need to add resolene or Neatlac on it to keep water from damaging it. Will be questioning "tandy dad" the guy at the tandy store that knows me so well, cause I am there so much. I wish it was closer, it's an hour drive one way.
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Talked to the tandy guy, he said for sealing the leather and/or holster and skirt squares etc., it would be wise to buff off any extra dye with a cheese cloth, then spray super sheen (it comes in spray bottles) or (in my case, I am going to airbrush resolene) that will water proof it a bit. Then use leather balm with atom wax with a cheese cloth and rub it in, then buff it. This seals the leather as much as leather can be "sealed." Natural Veg tanned leather can never be perfectly "sealed," unless you use neatlac, which is a lacquer that can crack. The laces, however, since they were dunked into the dye which contains alcohol that dries out the natural oils in the leather, need to be "reconditioned" there fore, some of the oils need to be put back into the laces to make them more pliable. This is what the neatsfoot oil was supposed to be used for. I bought the "non-darkening" lexol neatsfoot oil this time. ;) With the skirt squares, You don't really need neatsfoot oil, because if you airbrush it, it won't really damage the leather all that much. The dye just soaks on the top layer. The natural oils keep it pliable.
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Anyone know of a good sealer for Suede? Resolene is only for veg tanned leather.
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Everything i said above works on the skirt perfectly. Make sure you resolene airbrush it before you hand wipe leather balm atom wax the skirt.leather balm with atom wax mellows the color if you put it on first. And, if it gets too milky when you airbrush the resolene, then you have put way too much onto the leather. If you put too much resolene, pat it off.
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This message is for airbrush painting (not dyeing the leather for like the vest and stuff):

Thanks to MONCAL~ we used Createx airbrush paint. We airbrushed the vest and cumberbun and gloves and we sealed it with some shoe waterproofer we bought online. You could probably seal it with resolene, it would probably be better, since overspraying the shoe waterproofer could cause the paint to peel off like glue on fingers (we found that out) We plan on re-sealing everything with resolene. Hopefully, the paint will stay better.
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Did any of the paint chip/peel off of the vest? How many coats did you use? Colors? Curious minds want to know! ;) :D
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Yep, we used purple, red, blue and white, createx and it did peel off a little when we used the spray waterproofer,

But it only came off if you oversprayed the waterproofer. That's why we might do touch up and airbrush with resolene instead.

Createx is specially made for airbrushing, so you don't have water/acrylic mixing/consisency problems. We bought it at Total Crafts. Michaels might carry it, dunno. I can't give you formulas, because Zam I Ain't did the mixing, and my whole outfit is actually four different shades, made to match the differences in color of the card board cut out mostly. We also tryed to match colors so that it wouldn't look awekward. For instance, the Shoulder flap is a shade darker than the rest of the vest, as is the cumberbun and gloves. So, it's up to your discretion as to the "TRUE" coloring. Just be careful not to get too pink. That's an easy thing to do and mess up.
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What color did you buy?

I was going to re-dye the suede I bought ... but obviously that isn't going to work *sighs* Hmmm.. guess I'll try my hand at making a new purse or something! ;)
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MaulMaus wrote:

What color did you buy?

I was going to re-dye the suede I bought ... but obviously that isn't going to work *sighs* Hmmm.. guess I'll try my hand at making a new purse or something! ;)

You gonna make zam purses? hehe best in clawdite fashion wear!

My purple suede is a little off.. but close enuff.. I can post a pic later methinks. Most leather companies will accept leather back if it is unaltered.
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